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Publication numberUS7234640 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/889,602
Publication dateJun 26, 2007
Filing dateJul 12, 2004
Priority dateApr 17, 1998
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS20040254861
Publication number10889602, 889602, US 7234640 B2, US 7234640B2, US-B2-7234640, US7234640 B2, US7234640B2
InventorsRandolph M. Pentel
Original AssigneeRemote Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Portable ordering device
US 7234640 B2
Abstract
A remote ordering device having a two-way wireless communications input device with a display for sending and receiving data and a data receiving station to send and receive data, process orders and keep track of accounts, inventory and retain other data as required. The receiving station can be in communication with other receiving stations to forward orders or data. The receiving station can provide instructions to a person or machine to fill orders at any desired location. A GPS, WAP or other location finding systems, may be used to identify the user's location. Bioelectronics, Caller I.D, pin numbers or other identification means can be used to verify the user for debiting accounts or credit cards. Users can remotely order tickets, meals, services, or control machines remotely and either arrange for pick up at a desired location or for delivery.
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Claims(28)
1. A remote ordering apparatus comprising,
a wireless two-way telecommunications device having a data entry portion, a display portion, a power source, a first memory, a first processor, a transmitter and,
a data receiving station to send and receive data to and from the wireless two-way communications device, a second processor adopted to process data received by the data receiving station, a second memory adopted to store data, a data output device for directing the delivery of goods or services.
2. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the wireless two-way telecommunications device is a cell phone.
3. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the wireless two-way telecommunications device is a PDA.
4. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the wireless two-way telecommunications device is a computer.
5. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by a point and click system in conjunction with the display.
6. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by a touch screen system in conjunction with the display.
7. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by stylus touch screen system in conjunction with the display.
8. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by key entry in conjunction with menus on the the display.
9. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by a bar code reader.
10. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data input to the data entry portion is by a radio frequency identification chip.
11. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data receiving station is associated with vending machine.
12. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data receiving station is associated with an ATM.
13. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data entry device includes a credit card reader allowing for credit card data to be transmitted to the receiving station such that payment for the goods or services ordered can be made.
14. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data entry device includes a geopositioning system allowing for position data to be transmitted to the receiving station such that delivery of the goods or services ordered can be made.
15. A remote ordering apparatus as in claim 1 wherein,
the data entry device includes a bioelectronic identification system so data corresponding to the identity of the user can be transmitted to the receiving station such that authorization for payment for the goods or services ordered can be made.
16. A method for remote ordering comprising,
establishing a two-way wireless communications link between an input device having a display screen and a receiving station,
referring to a menu of items to be ordered from on the display screen,
entering the order on the input device,
transmitting the order from the input device to the ordering station,
recording the purchase made,
filling the order.
17. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 wherein,
a machine fills the order.
18. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
transmitting credit card information from the input device to the ordering station, and
recording the credit card transaction.
19. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
transmitting credit card information from the input device to the ordering station, and,
obtaining credit card authorization before filling the order.
20. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a point and click system in conjunction with the menu on the display.
21. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a touch screen system in conjunction with the menu on the display.
22. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a stylus on the screen system in conjunction with the menu on the display.
23. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a manual key entry on a keypad on the input device in conjunction with the menu on the display.
24. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a bar code reader on the input device.
25. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
entering the order by use of a radio frequency identification chip reader on the input device.
26. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
identifying the user of the input device by a pin number.
27. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
identifying the user of the input device by a bioelectronic identification device in the input device.
28. A method for remote ordering as in claim 16 with the further step of,
using a geopositioning system to transmit the location of the input device to the ordering station such that delivery of the order to the location can take place.
Description

This is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 10/222,158 filed Aug. 16, 2002 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,880,750 which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/684,185 filed Oct. 6, 2000 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,435,406 which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/384,961 filed Aug. 27, 1999, and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,425,524, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/062,093 filed Apr. 17, 1998 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 5,969,968.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to remote ordering systems in general.

The drive-through lanes in many restaurants have added a very beneficial feature for both the consumer and the proprietor. The drive-through allows the proprietor to remain open longer, while the restaurant is being cleaned for the next day. The drive-through also allows more efficient handling of customers with a reduction in staff count.

The customer gets the benefit of staying in his or her vehicle while being serviced. That is especially important to young families and to those with mobility problems, such as the aged or infirm.

Drive-through lanes have been around for quite some time. However, in the typical drive-through lane, a customer places an order by speaking into a microphone to an attendant. The quality of these microphones is generally poor, resulting in miscommunication and errors in the order. By the time the customer finds out about the error, he has already waited in line several minutes and must then wait several more minutes for a correct order to be filled. This results in the loss of customer goodwill.

A problem with previous drive-through ordering systems that do not use a microphone is that they require the customer to lean out of the vehicle to press a button on a menu or use a touch screen. This is awkward if not impossible for some people, such as very obese people. Also, this exposes the customer to rain, snow, etc., while the order is being placed. Generally speaking, there is no feedback as to the type, quantity, or total price of items ordered, and no capability to back up to correct an incorrectly entered item.

There is a need for a remote ordering system for a drive-through lane that addresses the above problems. Additionally, the system should provide a completely transportable, hand-held remote device that can be assigned to customers who order frequently from the restaurant. Optimally, the device will have a customer identification, which is transmitted with each order so that the restaurant can perform statistical analysis.

This application also relates to the use of a remote ordering device by wait staff within a restaurant, to place orders, determine the status of orders, and allow the customer to pay the bill either by cash or credit card.

There is a need for a hand held remote device on which a server in a restaurant enters each customer's food and beverage order and then electronically sends the information directly to the kitchen without the server having to personally take the order to the kitchen. Each server can then handle additional tables more efficiently, increasing their income, and saving the restaurant some portion of the staff salaries. The device can also have a credit card reader and signature “box” for the customer to complete the transaction at the table without having to wait in line at the cash register, or for the waitress to return with a credit slip to sign.

There is also a need for a generalized remote ordering device for customer use inside or outside a facility such as a restaurant, auto repair facility, retail store, grocery store, airport or other service facility. The remote ordering device is a handheld device that allows the customer to order and pay for products or services and access information.

The generalized remote ordering system may also have two way communications for seeing what is for sale and ordering on the two way communications device such as a computer, cell phone or a PDA either by a direct dial or over the internet, or by a Wi-Fi or other local communication connection such as infrared. With a two-way communications system a display may be used to point and click selections or make selections by a touch screen system or by entering data on a keyboard for selections seen on the display. The communications device can communicate with a computer at a store or restaurant or a service facility or with vending machines, ATMs, kiosks, vehicles. The device can be used for taxi services to order a taxi to come to your location, particularly when combined with a JPS system. The device can also be used to select items and pay for them from vending machines, gasoline pumps at gas stations, to buy airline tickets, insurance, rent cars, contact house appliances or open doors in homes hotels or other buildings.

The two-way communication feature allows for advertising or other information such as directions or product information to be displayed. Data entry to the communications device can be made by scanning information in, manually entering data, selection items on a screen by a point and click system or a touch screen system or by other means such as a radio frequency identification chip (RFIC) reading device.

The user of the communications device can be identified by biometric features of the user, such as fingerprints, voice recognition, retina identification, or by pin numbers, or chips such as RFIC in the user's possession implanted in the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A generalized remote ordering apparatus for customer and employee use within a restaurant, auto repair facility, retail store, grocery store, airport, theatre, Automated Teller Machine (ATM), hotel, or other service facility, vending machines, kiosks, or vehicles, to place orders, determine the status of orders, access information, and allow the customer to pay the bill either by cash when receiving the goods or services, by debiting an account, or use of a credit card, comprising:

(a) a data input and transmitting device, such as a cell phone or Personal Data Assistant (PDA) or personal computer (PC)with a cell phone for transmitting ordering data,

(b) an ordering station for receiving data from the transmitting device, either directly or through a cellular telephone system, said ordering station adapted to receive the data from said data input and transmitting device, communicate the order to be filled to an order filling point, account for the transaction by totaling the value of the items or services provided plus any taxes applicable and either presenting the bill for payment, or debiting a credit card or a customer account and optionally providing a receipt for the customer when the goods or services are received. The customer may pick up the goods or they can be delivered to the customer.

A principal object and advantage of the present invention is that it allows the customer to order items from a menu without the necessity to speak to an attendant. This results in more accurate orders.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that a server can immediately send orders to a kitchen without having to personally deliver them such that the server can spend more productive time serving patrons, handle more tables, and thus save labor expenses.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that orders are received faster, and the server can be notified of completed orders as soon as they are prepared in the kitchen. Food will not get cool waiting for servers to pick it up.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that the individual orders will be automatically entered on a computer system, to be used in inventory management, internal control, and marketing as desired. If the patron wishes to pay cash, or does not want to use a credit card, the order will be identified electronically at the check out register. If the business establishment wishes to have all patrons come to the check out register for control, the credit card slip and bill could already be completed saving time at the register.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that restaurant customers who are in a hurry can complete the credit card payment when the food is ordered, and not have to wait for the server to give them the bill. They could leave when they are finished eating.

Another object and advantage is to improve security of transactions by not having credit cards, which can be lost or stolen, or credit card imprints which can be used to steal card number. Electronic transfer of credit card data and identification information prevents loss by theft.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that kitchen staff could always read the order, because no handwriting is involved.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that the server's orders and tips could be constantly recorded automatically, even if charged at the table.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is that each server could have their own ordering device, for easy identification in the kitchen or for personal notes in the jacket.

Another object and advantage of the present invention is to establish two-way communication from the data input and transmitting device by adding a data receiving portion and a data display portion such as a display screen so that orders can be placed by accessing information on the display screen. The data can be entered by point and click systems, touch screen systems, stylus on screen systems, scanners, radio frequency identification chips or keyboard entry of data.

Another object of the invention is to provide product menus, product information and advertising on the display portion of the two-way communications device.

Another object of the invention is to communicate with machines for providing goods or services from the vending machine, ATM's, kiosks which sell insurance or tickets such as airline tickets, train tickets or theater tickets.

The above objects and advantages would be equally applicable for use by a customer at a service facility such as a restaurant, auto repair facility, retail store, grocery store, airport, etc.

The generalized remote ordering apparatus may also be used by a business facility to allow the customer to select a predetermined order and then enter it remotely. For example, the service facility may post an order code on a World Wide Web page that is correlated to a particular predetermined order. After accessing the web page, the customer enters the order code into the input device and, while at the service facility, transmits the order code to the ordering station. The service facility may also require the customer to enter a credit card number before providing the order code.

The ordering menu can be transmitted to a cell phone, PDA or PC when a telecommunications link is established or the ordering menu may be in the memory of the cell phone PDA or PC. The menu can also be in a catalog or posted in a visible location at the establishment where the ordering is taking place, such as a sign in a drive through lane of a business or on a wall inside of a business establishment. For cell phones a voice menu can be used to make selections from.

Any type of item or service can be ordered remotely over a cell phone or other telecommunications link, the business receiving the orders can track who is placing the orders by the cell phone being used or the cell phone in combination with a personal identification number (PIN) a biometric identification device attached to the cell phone PDA or PC, or such a device at the point where the goods or services are delivered. The business can automatically keep track of inventory, and the accounting associated with the transaction such as credit card accounts, debiting accounts the customer has established at the business, preparing receipts, or directing that cash be collected to complete the transaction.

The customer need not remember the number of each business he desires to contact. One number can be provided which has a menu of businesses to contact and the orders may be placed on the at the number dialed and then transferred to the desired business or a link with the business can be made through the internet or by forwarding the call.

A two-way communications device can provide menus to make selections from. The selections can be made from goods from catalogs, or restaurant menus, or for tickets and seating in theaters, aircraft, hotels reservations, transactions at automatic teller machines, or ordering electronic payments to be made from bank accounts.

A menu for ordering goods or services may also include a selection of place for picking up the goods or designating a place for delivery.

Identification of the customer can be made by identifying the transmitter device assigned to the customer such as a cell phone number of this cell phone, or biometric information collected over the wireless transmitter or in person at the time of pick up or delivery of the goods or services. Other methods of identifying the customer include personal identification numbers (PIN) or possession of a chip having identification information. Other means of identification of the customer at the point of pickup include signatures, photographs, and chips in the possession of the customer such as imbedded chips in a customer card or tag.

A data output device such as a video display or print out can direct personnel at a business establishment to fill orders. The output devices may also be used to print labels, warranties, receipts, credit card slips, tickets, or other information for the customer or the business establishment.

Any type of wireless communications can be used such as cell phones, or other transmitters. The cell phones and transmitters may be connected to personal computers, personal data assistants, tablet personal computers or other data storage and manipulation devices. The wireless technology used can be by wide fidelity (Wi-Fi), Wireless Personal Networks or other systems. The connections may use bluetooth protocol or any other protocol.

Automatic ordering from one computer to another rather than from a customer directly can be made. For example appliances can ask for refills, such as a refrigerator asking a delivery service for more milk, heating system asking for more oil or propane, etc.

The ordering system can also be used to control appliances and controls in homes and businesses, such as turning on lights or security systems, adjusting the heating or cooling systems, etc.

The ordering system working with position location devices such as GPS and cell phone location systems can advice a user where the nearest provider of goods or services is located.

The data entered into the ordering device by the customer may be by pushing buttons, scanning bar codes, voice commands, or any other data entry means.

Mobile payments can be made for highway tolls, parking fees, without stopping a vehicle to increase throughput at tollgates and parking ramps. Cab fares, bus fares and other transactions can be completed while in transit.

Two-way communications devices may be used where the remote ordering device has a display screen for displaying data such as ordering menus, product information and advertising. The display screen can be used for point and click ordering, touch screen ordering stylus on screen ordering, or observing the screen and entering data by keyboard from the menu. Other means of entering data to be sent by the ordering device can be by scanning data into the remote ordering device, or use of radio frequency identification chips in products manually selected where the bar codes for scanning or the radio frequency chips are attached to the goods or cards for selecting services.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic of the present invention shown in the context of a restaurant drive-through lane.

FIG. 2 is a schematic of the remote hand-held device of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an electrical block diagram of the components of the remote hand-held device.

FIG. 4 is an electrical block diagram of the components of the drive-through station.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of the data processing method of the present invention.

FIG. 6A is a schematic of an “enter item number” display.

FIG. 6B shows the “enter item number” display after an item number has been entered.

FIG. 7 is a schematic of an “item identifier and quantity” screen with the item quantity filled in by the customer.

FIG. 8 is a schematic of an “item total” screen.

FIG. 9 is a schematic of an “enter/remove/finish” screen.

FIG. 10 is a schematic of an “order total” screen.

FIG. 11A is a schematic of one embodiment of a “remove item” screen.

FIG. 11B is a schematic of another embodiment of a “remove item” screen.

FIG. 12A is a schematic of an input device for a generalized remote ordering apparatus.

FIG. 12B is a schematic cross-section along the lines 12B of FIG. 12A.

FIG. 13 is a schematic of an ordering station for a generalized remote ordering apparatus.

FIG. 14 is a schematic of another embodiment of an input device for a generalized remote ordering apparatus.

FIG. 15 is a schematic of an ordering station for use with the input device of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a schematic end elevational view.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The remote ordering system for a restaurant drive-through lane of the present invention is generally designated in the Figures as referenced numeral 10.

The remote ordering system 10 comprises an input device 12 and a drive-up ordering station 14. The input device 12 is unconnected to the drive-up ordering station 14, and the input device is used from inside the vehicle V. Preferably, the input device 12 is hand-held and is transportable away from the drive-up ordering station 14. Multiple devices 12 may be used, with a separate device being assigned to each customer. In this embodiment the input device 12 is preferably used within direct line-of-sight of the drive-up ordering station 14. That is, it is not intended that the devices operate while greatly separated, as for example over a telephone network.

Preferably, the input device 12 has a keypad 16, battery 18, a first memory 20, a first processor 22, and a transmitter 24. The first memory 20 and the first processor 22 may be discrete components, or they may both be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 3. A customer identification number may be stored in the first memory 20 for transmission to the drive-up ordering station with the order.

The keypad 16 further preferably comprises a number of numeric keys 16 a, an enter key 16 b, a remove key 16 c, a quantity add key 16 d, a quantity subtract key 16 e, and a start/finish key 16 f, as seen in FIG. 2.

The drive-up ordering station 14 has a posted visual menu 30, which has the description and order number of various food items. A receiver 32 is tuned to the transmitter 24. The station 14 also has a second processor 34 which is adapted to decode information received from the transmitter 24 through the receiver 32 and produce decoded information. The decoded information, for example, item description and price, is displayed on a display 36. A second memory 38 stores item numbers, descriptions, and prices which may be received from a point-of-sale system 40 through a communications link 42. The second memory 38 and second processor 34 may be discrete components, or they may both be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 4.

The transmitter 24 and receiver 32 may operate either with radio frequency (RF) transmissions or with infrared (IR) transmissions.

The remote ordering system 10 further comprises remote software executing in the first processor 22 and managing the remote input device 12; and ordering station software executing in the second processor 34 managing the ordering station 14. A flowchart of the remote software and ordering station software is shown in FIG. 5.

First, the ordering station software displays a “welcome” screen on the display 36. The welcome screen may invite the customer to initiate a transaction by pressing the start key 16 f on the remote device 12.

The customer then presses the start key 16 f on the remote device 12, causing a signal to be sent from the transmitter 24 to the receiver 32. The start signal is decoded by the ordering station software executing in the second processor 34.

In the next step, the ordering station software causes an “enter item number” screen (FIG. 6A) to be displayed on the display 36. The item numbers available to the customer will be shown on the posted menu 30 along with a description of the item (hamburger, cheeseburger, etc.) associated with the item number.

In response to the “enter item number screen,” the customer presses one or more of the numeric keys 16 a to input the item number (FIG. 6B). The customer then initiates transmission of the item number to the ordering station 14 by, for example, pressing the “enter” key 16 b.

The item number is received by the receiver 32 and decoded by the ordering station software executing in the second processor 34. The ordering station software then associates the item number with an item description by looking in a table held in the second memory 38.

Next, the ordering station software sends an “item identifier and quantity” screen (FIG. 7) to the display 36. This screen invites the customer to enter the quantity of this item desired.

The customer inputs the quantity of this item desired by using the numeric keys 16 a and optionally the quantity add key 16 d and/or quantity subtract key 16 e. The customer then initiates transmission of the item quantity by, for example, pressing the “enter” key 16 b.

The receiver 32 receives the item quantity for the first item and passes this to the second processor 34 for decoding. The second processor then makes an entry for the quantity of the first item in the second memory 38. The second processor looks up the price of this item from a table maintained in the second memory 38 and calculates an item total for the first item. The ordering station software then transmits an item total screen (FIG. 8) for the first item to the display 36.

When the customer presses the “enter” key again, a transmission signaling pressing of the “enter” key is sent to the ordering station 14. The ordering station software then transmits an “enter/remove/finish” screen (FIG. 9) to the display 36.

The customer has three choices by which he may respond to the “enter/remove/finish” screen.

If the “enter” key is pressed, the remote device 12 signals the ordering station 14 to bring up an “enter item number” screen (FIG. 6A) to begin the process described above for ordering another item.

If the “remove” key 16 c is pressed, the remote device 12 signals the ordering station to bring up a “remove item” screen (FIG. 11A). This screen will list the item(s) ordered by item number, description, and quantity and display an order total. Optionally, the order subtotals may also be displayed (FIG. 11B). By using the numeric keys 16 a, the customer indicates which item number to remove, then presses the “enter” key to signal the ordering station software to remove that item from the order. The ordering station software then redisplays the “enter/remove/finish” screen.

If the “finish” key 16 f is pressed, the remote device 12 signals the ordering station to calculate an order total for all items and quantities ordered. The ordering station software then causes an order total screen (FIG. 10) to be displayed on the display 36.

The ordering station software then sends the order information to the point-of-sale system via the communications link 42.

The point-of-sale system may load item numbers, descriptions, and prices into the ordering station through the communication link 42.

A generalized remote ordering apparatus comprises an input device 112 having a keypad 116, a battery 18, a first memory 20, a first processor 22, and a transmitter 24 (see FIGS. 3 and 12A). The first memory 20 and first processor 22 may be discrete components, or they may both be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 3. A user/server indicator may be stored in the first memory 20 for transmission to the ordering station 140 to identify the user/server.

The remote ordering apparatus further comprises an ordering station 140 unconnected to the input device 112, the ordering station 140 having receiver 32 tuned to the transmitter 24. The remote ordering station 140 also has a second processor 34, which is adapted to decode information received from the transmitter 24 through the receiver 32 and produce decoded information. The remote ordering station 140 also has a display 36 adapted to display the decoded information. A second memory 38 stores item numbers, descriptions, and prices, which may be received from a point-of-sale system 40 through a communications link 42. The second memory 38 and second processor 34 may be discrete components, or they may both be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 4.

The input device 112 may have a display window 114 for displaying information. Preferably, the display window 114 is a liquid crystal display. The display window may be a computer screen, or a display on a cell phone, PDA or other communications device. The display window may have a menu for selecting goods or services. The selection can be made by a point and click system, a touch screen system a stylus on the screen system or keying in data from the menu on the screen.

The input device 112 may have an order ready indicator 118 which is turned on by transmission from the ordering station 140 when an order is ready for pickup. Preferably, the order ready indicator is a lighted indicator such as an LED, but could also be a chime or vibrator. Alternatively a message can be sent and displayed on the screen when the product or service is ready, or a message can be sent regarding the status of the order.

The keypad 116 preferably has a plurality of numeric keys 116A to input selections from menu items and customer data. Most preferably, the numeric keys 116A further comprise keys labeled 0 through 9, as shown in FIG. 12A. For example, a standard telephone keypad could be used as the numeric keys 116A.

The keypad 116 further comprises an order send button 120, which is pressed to transmit an order to the ordering station 140.

The keypad 116 further comprises a recall/change button 122 which can be used to recall or change a previously submitted order by entering the order number and pressing the recall/change button 122.

The input device 112 preferably has a credit card slot 128 for swiping a credit card to read the magnetic strip on the credit card. The input device 112 may also have a credit card signature block 126 adapted to electronically record the signature of a credit card holder.

The transmitter 24 and receiver 32 may operate either with radio frequency (RF) transmissions or with infrared (IR) transmissions. Preferably, RF transmissions are used.

The remote ordering apparatus preferably comprises a plurality of the input devices 112, each of said plurality of input devices 112 being separately transportable away from the ordering station 140.

A customer of the service facility may place orders or acquire other information from the service facility by means of a method using the generalized remote ordering apparatus.

The service facility provides an order code to the customer who is using the input device, after correlating the order code to a predetermined order. For example, order code 1 could be correlated to a hamburger, fries, and a coke. The user of the input device then enters the order code into the input device 112 by means of the keypad 116 and presses the order send button 120, which causes the order number to be transmitted to the ordering station. The user may operate the input device 112 either inside or outside the service facility, depending on the range of the transmitter 24.

To provide order codes to the general public, the owner of a store or service facility may post a menu of order codes on a World Wide Web page. For example, a user may go to the store or service provider web site and pull up the menu of order codes, if a retail store is having a special promotion, the store may post order codes for the sale items, on its web site. The shopper then enters the order codes into the input device 112 and transmits them to the ordering station 140. With a two-way communications device having a screen or display the user can select goods or services on the display by a point and click system a touch screen system or a stylus on the screen to enter the desired order codes, or the user can manually enter the codes.

Alternatively, the service facility could also provide a catalog for use by a customer, which each customer being given an input device for shopping, and the catalog having the order codes. The input device 112 could be programmed to accept a number of order codes and transmit them serially to the ordering station 140 with one press of the order send button. When the order is ready, the order ready indicator will be turned on, and the customer may pick up the order.

In an alternative arrangement, the service facility may reveal an order code, on a web site or otherwise, only after verifying the identity of the requester, and may additionally require the requester to pay for the order with a credit card number before receiving the order code. In another arrangement, the requester pays for the order after entering it by swiping his credit card through the credit card slot 128, which transmits the credit card number and expiration date to the point-of-sale system through the ordering station 140.

The input device 112 may be incorporated into a cellular telephone, so that orders may be transmitted to the service facility over the telephone network.

Another embodiment of a generalized remote ordering apparatus is shown in FIGS. 14–16 as reference numeral 210.

The generalized remote ordering apparatus 210 comprises an input device 212 and an ordering station 240 unconnected to the input device 212.

The input device 212 further comprises a keypad 216, a battery (not shown), a first memory 20, a first processor 22, and a transmitter 224. The first memory 20 and first processor 22 may be discrete components or they may be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 3.

The input device 212 also comprises a bar code reader 226 adapted to read bar code labels L.

The ordering station 240 has a receiver 32 adapted to receive information from the transmitter 224. The ordering station 240 also has a second processor 34 which is adapted to decode information received from the transmitter 224 through the receiver 32 and produce decoded information. A second memory 38 stores item numbers, descriptions, and prices which may be received from a point-of-sale system 40 through a communications link 42. The second memory 38 and second processor 34 may be discrete components, or they may both be in an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) as seen in FIG. 4.

In one preferred embodiment, the input device 212 comprises a cellular telephone 250 and the receiver 32 comprises a telephone answering apparatus 242.

If the cellular telephone is analog, the transmitter 224 will include a modem.

In other embodiments, the transmitter 224 and receiver 32 operate in the infrared spectrum or the radio spectrum.

The apparatus 210 may also have a global positioning system (GPS) transceiver 260 that communicates with one or more GPS satellites S.

The apparatus 210 may also have a personal identification apparatus 270 adapted to identify the user of the input device 212. The personal identification apparatus preferably is adapted to identify the user directly by some physical characteristic, instead of requiring the user to input a personal identification number (PIN). This provides additional security, because PINs can be stolen, but physical characteristics of the user cannot be copied.

The physical characteristic that may be used with the personal identification apparatus 270 may be any physical characteristic of the user, but preferably is selected from the group consisting of bioelectric, biochemical, and biomechanical characteristics.

For example, the personal identification apparatus 270 may be adapted to identify the user's voice, the user's thumbprint, or the user's retinal pattern.

Applications of the apparatus 210 may now be illustrated.

If the input device 212 is a cellular telephone 250 equipped with a bar code reader 226, the user may order an item from his home or car for later pickup at a store or restaurant. The store or restaurant may publish a menu of items with corresponding bar codes, either in print or on the World Wide Web. To order an item, the user would dial a central number at which the ordering station is located and the call would be answered by the telephone answering apparatus 242. A series of voice instructions would instruct the user to read the bar code using the bar code reader 226. The ordering station 140 would then communicate with the point-of-sale system to record the sale. In addition, the customer may be required to swipe a credit card through the credit card slot 128, either at home or when at the store.

In another application, the GPS transceiver 260 would indicate the user's location, precise to within 10 feet, and the input device 212 would transmit this location to the ordering station 140 during the ordering process. A delivery person, equipped with another GPS transceiver, would input the GPS coordinates into his transceiver and would be able to go directly to the location at which the ordering user is located. This would be of great value in an environment such as a stadium.

Alternatively, a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) can be used to locate the position of the caller for routing calls to the nearest provider or delivering the good or services to the user.

In another application, the user may place an order through the store or restaurant's World Wide Web site, using any standard ordering process. When the user arrives at the store or restaurant, the user may activate the input device 212 in order to indicate to the ordering station 140 that the user is present and ready to pick up the item.

In a still further application the user may call a central number to connect to a central computer which will offer a menu of all goods and services available for ordering by remote ordering systems. The central computer will then route the user to a particular order receiving computer or forward orders taken on the central computer. In this manner the user need only remember one number to call to enter the system no matter what goods or services are desired.

In another embodiment the user may call the receiving station phone number for a business and be connected to the central computer which processes the order and debits the customer's account, or credit card and then sends order data to a second computer at a location where the product or service is to be picked up or provided instructing the local branch to provide the goods or services. Alternatively the central computer can send data to be viewed on a screen or printed, instructing the local branch to provide the goods or services. A printer can print labels, receipts or credit card slips directed by the central computer or an on site computer. Inventory control data may be kept on the central, the local computer or both.

In the general case a user can access a receiving station 240 by use of a transmitter, a cell phone, preferably a cell phone with a data display screen 214, a PDA with a transmitter, a PDA with a cell phone, a PC with a transmitter, or a PC with a cell phone, a tablet PC with a transmitter, or a tablet PC with a cell phone. The transmissions of data can be by wide fidelity (Wi-Fi), wireless personal networks or any other system and may use blue tooth or any other protocol. All of the devices should have a display screen 214 for viewing information sent by the receiving station so that there is a two-way communication between the input device 212 and the ordering station 240. In this manner a point and click ordering system can be implemented. Alternatively a touch screen system or a stylus on the screen ordering system may be used to select goods and services. The keypad 216 or the bar code reader 216 can also be used to enter the data for ordering goods or services. Other means of entering ordering data may also be used including speech recognition software or numerical entries to voice prompted ordering menus.

The receiving station 240 can be a general service receiving station and forward calls or order data to other receiving stations for a particular business, which in turn can contact a receiving station or send a message to it's own local branch directing the goods or services to be provided at the location where the customer wishes to pick up the goods or receive the services. The goods or services may also be delivered from the nearest local branch to the customer.

The receiving station 240 may be contacted at a central toll free phone number phone for taking orders and handling accounts and inventory data and then sending data to a local receiving station for filling the orders. Alternatively the receiving station 240 can be a central receiving station for the business with a nation wide toll free number and the local branches of the business that fill the orders can have a communications link to receive data for filling the orders. As part of the menu for ordering goods or services the user can select the location for pick up or designate a point of delivery.

There may be many uses for the receiving station 240. It can control other machines rather than simply provide goods or services. For example the receiving station 240 can be connected to a house to control heat, lock or unlock doors, turn on or off lights, etc. In other applications the receiving station 240 can be connected to an ATM machine for obtaining cash or making deposits, or to a bank computer for transferring funds between the user's accounts or paying bills.

The receiving station 240 may be in a vending machine, the venting machine may be in a kiosk. The receiving station may also be in a home or a home appliance. If used with a vending machine the vending machine can electronically accept payment from credit cards or debit cards rather than having money deposited. The vending machine or kiosk may sell insurance such as travel or flight insurance at airports, tickets to performances or sporting events, or for transportation such as airline, bus and train tickets. The vending machine may also be a self-service fuel pump at a service station.

The combination of the input device 212 and ordering station 240 may be used to summon taxis, particularly when combined with the geopositioning system in the data entry device 212, and pay the fare, or to rent cars and provide keyless entry to the vehicle.

The input device 212 may also be used in conjunction with a receiving station 240 at a hotel to reserve a room, check in, obtain room service, pay the bills, operate the door locks on the hotel room and check out of the hotel.

The wireless telecommunications device may have a bioelectronic user identification device for transmitting user identification data to the receiving station. Alternatively receiving station can receive identity data from a bioelectronic identification device at the point of pick up or delivery. Chips in the possession of the customer such as chips imbedded in cards or tags or even chips in the customer can be used for identification.

The data input device 212 may have a chip reader for radio frequency identification chips (RFIC), which can be attached to products and entered into the data input device by being proximate the RFIC. A shopper in a store can have a data input device on a shopping cart and input the data on the input data device 212 by placing items with RFIC tags in the shopping cart. Alternatively a shopper can scan in the bar codes from the product with bar code reader 226 on input device 212 such that the goods selected can be inventoried and paid for while on the store premises.

In the most general case the wireless ordering telecommunications device can connect people, appliances or computers to the ordering station and the ordering station may be connected to appliances, machines or computers.

In general the ordering station can send any type of information to the shopper, including directions on how to get to the store or directions in a store for where a good is located, or the location of a pick up point, advertise specials, or provide other advertisements and useful information to the customer.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is therefore desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, reference being made to the appended claims rather than to the foregoing description to indicate the scope of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Non-Patent Citations
Reference
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Classifications
U.S. Classification235/384, 705/43, 235/375
International ClassificationG06Q50/00, G07F7/00, G07F7/02, G07G1/14, G06Q30/00
Cooperative ClassificationG07G1/14, G06Q30/06, G06Q20/206, G07F7/00, G06Q20/1085, G07F7/02
European ClassificationG06Q30/06, G06Q20/206, G06Q20/1085, G07G1/14, G07F7/00, G07F7/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 30, 2010FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Jan 5, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: REMOTE INC., MINNESOTA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:PENTEL, RANDOLPH M.;REEL/FRAME:016976/0225
Effective date: 20051216